(1) In a reference under S. 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, in the matter of awards of compensation for the acquisition of certain lands in Velayudanpattu village in the South Arcot District, the learned Subordinate Judge of Cuddalore set aside the award of the Land Acquisition Officer and remitted the matter for passing a revised award. This the learned Subordinate Judge did as he found that the basis of the valuation adopted by the officer was under Act XI of 1953, which has since been declared to be unconstitutional. The State has preferred the appeals against the order of remittal on the ground that the lower Court had no jurisdiction to set aside the awards and remit the same for passing revised awards. The office of the Registrar has taken objection to the maintainability of the appeals and has referred the matter to Court.
(2) Section 54 of the Land Acquisition Act under which the appeals are sought to be filed allows an appeal in any proceedings under the Act to the High Court from the award or from any part of the award. There is no definition in the Act of the term 'award' but in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao, ILR 45 Mad 320 : AIR 1922 PC 80, the Privy Council observed at p. 329 (of ILR): (at p. 83 of AIR), that
'Under the Land Acquisition Act, there are two perfectly separate and distinct forms of procedure contemplated. The first is that necessary for fixing the amount of the compensation and this is described as being an award. By S. 54 an appeal from that award or of any part of the award is given to the High Court.............'
(3) In Revenue Divl. Officer and Land Acquisition Officer, Tellicherry v. Valia Rajah of Chirakkal Kovilagam : AIR1944Mad539 , a similar question arose, Wadsworth, J., held that the Land Acquisition Act did not empower the Court to remand the case to the Collector for fresh enquiry and for a further award, and as there was no right of appeal against the order of a Judge declining to make the award the proper proceeding to set aside the order was to apply to this Court under S. 115 C.P.C. by way of revision.
(4) It does not however appear that the decision of a Bench of this Court in Muthuveerapa Pillai v. Revenue Divl. Officer, Melur : AIR1931Mad26 , was brought to the notice of the learned Judge. In that case there was a reference under S. 18 of the Land Acquisition Act to the lower Court. Pending the dismissal of the reference, the the Government cancelled the notification. In view of the cancellation of the notification the lower Court closed the proceedings relating to the reference but made certain orders in regard to the payment of costs. A question arose whether there could be an appeal against the order of the lower Court. The learned Judges held that once there was a proper reference before the Court under S. 18 all orders passed in that reference would be awards and an appeal would lie.
In the present case we find that in this case there is a decision by the Court under S. 18 which has the effect of nullifying the award of the Land Acquisition Officer and a remittal of the proceedings for the purpose of fixing the proper amount of compensation. That would be an award within the meaning of the term as adopted by the Privy Council in ILR 45 Mad 320 : AIR 1922 PC 80, namely, an order that is necessary for the fixing of the amount of compensation. I am therefore of the opinion that the order in the present case would be an award within the meaning of S. 54 of the Land Acquisition Act and an appeal can be entertained under that provision. Reference answered.
(5) Order accordingly.